5 juiciest storylines in the Big Ten in Week 10
Week 10 is filled with a boat-load of storylines, which isn’t surprising now that it’s November. There are division races to decide on both sides of the conference, and with only four weeks left in the regular season, every game takes on added significance.
Here are the five juiciest storylines heading into action on Saturday:
1. Will Penn State finish 0-3 against the B1G East’s top-3 teams?
The preseason conversation was all over the map when discussing who would win the Big Ten East. Ohio State was the slight favorite, but Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State were all considered viable title options as well. At Penn State, the confidence level was high that they could win it all, especially with quarterback Trace McSorley back for his senior year. But so far the Nittany Lions have stumbled in games against the top teams, losing at home — just barely — to Ohio State and Michigan. Their last chance comes Saturday at Michigan when the take on the Wolverines, the last unbeaten team in the conference. Getting swept will not be a good look for Penn State coach James Franklin.
2. How healthy are all these quarterbacks?
Everybody is a little banged-up this time of year, but we’ve got to keep a close eye on several quarterbacks on Saturday. There is some concern about whether Wisconsin’s Alex Hornibrook, Iowa’s Nate Stanley or Penn State’s McSorley are healthy enough to last 60 minutes. Hornibrook missed last week’s game with a concussion, Stanley has a sprained thumb on his throwing hand and McSorley is nursing a knee injury. With all three teams in must-win situations Saturday — and every other weekend in November, for that matter — it’s going to be interesting to see if these guys can survive for four quarters. How effective will they all be?
3. Are Ohio State and Michigan crisp coming off byes?
The Buckeyes and Wolverines each had last week off, so it’s going to be interesting to see how they play after all that time off. Ohio State is home against Nebraska, which shouldn’t be a problem, but you never know after watching the Buckeyes lose to Purdue two weeks ago. They have a ton of issues right now, so it’ll be interesting to see what they got accomplished during the bye week. For Michigan, it was on a huge roll prior to the break, so the biggest question will be if they lost any of that momentum? Penn State is a tough opponent.
4. Can Northwestern shake up the Playoff picture?
There’s only one nonconference game this week, and it’s a huge one. Northwestern is hosting No. 4-ranked Notre Dame in Evanston in primetime. There are going to be a lot of eyeballs on this game. Northwestern, leaders in the Big Ten West, have been up and down a lot of this season, but this could be their magical moment. Plus, let’s be honest, Notre Dame has a history of losing games in big moments like this. Do the Wildcats, a 10-point underdog, have it in them to pull it off?
5. Does bad week at Maryland end on a high note?
The craziness on Maryland’s campus is mostly over after DJ Durkin was fired this week for his role in the Jordan McNair death from last summer. It’s been a tough time for the Terps, but these players deserve a lot of credit for sticking together and playing for their teammates. If they can beat Michigan State at home Saturday, they would be bowl eligible, which is quite an accomplishment considering all they’ve been through.